Toward a system where workforce planning and interprofessional practice and education are designed around patients and populations not professions
Traditional workforce planning methodologies and interprofessional education (IPE) approaches will not address the significant challenges facing health care systems seeking to integrate services, eliminate waste and meet rising demand within fixed or shrinking budgets. This article describes how New Zealand’s workforce planning approach could be used as a model by other countries to move toward needs-based, interprofessional workforce planning. Such an approach requires a paradigm shift to reframe health workforce planning away from a focus on shortages toward assessing how to more effectively deploy and retrain the existing workforce; away from silo-based workforce projection models toward methodologies that recognize professions’ overlapping scopes of practice; and away from a focus on traditional health professions toward including both health and social care workers. We propose that IPE must develop new models of learning that are delivered in the context of practice. This will require a shift from today’s predominant focus on preparing students in the pipeline to be collaboration-ready to designing clinical practice environments that support continuous learning that benefits not just learners, but patients, populations, and providers as well. We highlight the need for improved data and methods to evaluate IPE and call for better collaboration between health workforce planners and IPE stakeholders.